ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Slow, steady job growth certainly beats alternative

It’s good to have job growth in the U.S. economy once again, even if the monthly gains in employment reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics occasionally fall short of some analysts’ expectations. After a long spell of minuscule job growth in the wake of a painful recession, we’ve grown used to disappointing announcements from the federal statistical agency responsible for tracking the labor market. But the recent report on the employment situation in December caps a year-long streak of…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Consumer confidence is tricky economic indicator

We’ve see it on television almost every day, it seems. Within seconds of a dramatic event-winning a race, scoring a touchdown, or finding a lost child-the central figure is asked by an eager reporter, “How do you feel?” As an economist, I am generally squirming in my chair at this point. Not because economists have no feelings-we actually do even if we tend to express them using graphs and equations. Rather, it is because we believe the best way to…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Prices recover in 2004; expect same in 2005

A few weeks of big price changes, particularly on the up side, and the armchair economists seem to really come out of the woodwork. Oil prices peaked in October at levels 40-percent higher than in July, and so did rumblings about conspiracies, windfall profits and pricegouging. To hear some lunchroom conversations, as well as the saber-rattling of some attorneys general around the country, the only thing that keeps businesses of all kinds from fleecing the American public with unconscionable prices…

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